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Diasporic media in multicultural cities: a comparative study on Korean media in Vancouver and Los Angeles

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Thesis type
((Thesis)/(Dissertation)) Ph.D.
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In multicultural cities, what are the opportunities and challenges for creating an interculturally inclusive media system, as a means of enhancing multicultural citizenship and cultural literacy among all members of society? This study explores the rapidly growing, yet understudied, Korean media sector in Vancouver and Los Angeles. The passage of Korea’s new election law in 2009, which extends voting rights to overseas Koreans, is likely to intensify the connection between the home country and one of the most monolingual and first-generation-dominant diaspora in Canada and the U.S. This dissertation advances the field of diasporic media by taking an interdisciplinary approach across the fields of multiculturalism and media. By synthesizing Will Kymlicka’s theory of multicultural citizenship and institutional integration for social inclusion, and Sandra Ball-Rokeach’s theory of urban communication infrastructure as a storytelling system, this study offers a critical analysis of multiculturalism as theory, policy, and practice, tracing its influence on diasporic communication infrastructure. Offering the largest media analysis yet assembled, this dissertation maps the social structure, media organizations, media content, and social interaction of diasporic Korean actors. By using Peter Dahlgren’s four-fold typology of the public sphere, structural and institutional conditions are identified as well as city-specific and ethnicity-specific factors in the production and distribution of diasporic media in general, and diasporic Korean storytelling in particular. Consistent with Kymlicka’s proposition that liberal multicultural citizenship must integrate diasporic identities in the public sphere, this study concludes that the Korean media in both cities contribute to creating a vital local public sphere. Nevertheless, regardless of the different official status of multiculturalism and regulatory contexts, Korean media have been constructed largely in the commercial sector, in which prevalent in-language marketing combined with the lack of policy supports results in the underutilization of Korean media as a means of enhancing cultural literacy for all members of society. Such a shortcoming requires more critical multiculturalism and communication theories and policies, in order to re-examine the existing conception of diasporic inclusion in mainstream institutions, to extend the benefits of diasporic media beyond diasporic communities, and establish an interculturally inclusive media system.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Murray, Catherine
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